Sony picks up THR b.o. nod

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Sony Pictures was awarded The Hollywood Reporter's inaugural Boxoffice Achievement Award on Thursday at ShoWest.

The prize was created to honor the studio with the previous year's best boxoffice track record, and Sony last year grossed $3.3 billion worldwide, with $1.7 million coming from domestic receipts.

Sony Pictures domestic distribution president Rory Bruer accepted the award, presented by John Kilcullen, senior vp of Nielsen Business Media Entertainment Group and publisher of The Reporter, at a luncheon at the Paris hotel.

"With very few exceptions, every title seemed to work," Bruer said of last year's Sony slate, which included such $150 million-plus films as "The Da Vinci Code," "Casino Royale" and "The Pursuit of Happyness." "We're going to continue to deliver the best films in the marketplace."

In his opening remarks, Kilcullen said that he, like most of the exhibitors in the audience, is excited about the bumper crop of product set to be released in the summer and that he is committed to continuing to grow ShoWest as "the most important industry event dedicated to the motion (picture) industry." ShoWest is managed by Nielsen Business Media, parent company of The Reporter.

"This is a great time to be standing here before you, coming off a fantastic year at the boxoffice in 2006 when revenue was up almost 6%," Kilcullen said. "We're heading into what by all accounts is going to be a great and potentially record-breaking summer season. Based on the strong lineup of product, analysts are predicting another banner increase for 2007. With digital cinema finally breaking out, with hundreds of screens being added each month along with 3-D movies and incredible sound, the movie experience is more compelling and can't be replicated in the home."

Jerry Penacoli of television entertainment magazine "Extra" served as emcee for the luncheon, which also saw the presentation of the 2007 ShoWest NATO Marketing Achievement Awards. The awards recognize local theater managers who craft savvy campaigns in an array of categories that help drive patrons to their cinemas.

Joe Girouard, executive director of marketing and promotions at Brenden Theatres, received the best overall promotion and showmanship honor for his campaign for Warner Bros. Pictures' "Superman Returns" in the summer. He organized a meet-and-greet with the film's star Brandon Routh and a VIP screening of the film in Imax 3-D at the circuit's Las Vegas location at the Palms Casino Resort. Brenden Theatres president and CEO Johnny Brenden accepted the award on Girouard's behalf.

James Reese, district promotion coordinator for Regal Cinemas Pinnacle Stadium 18 in Knoxville, Tenn., received the Heart of Showmanship Award for his efforts organizing a charity screening of Sony's "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby." Lee Milstead of Regal Cinemas Virginia Center Stadium 20 in Glen Allen, Va., was awarded the prize for best use of media and stunts, while Wesley Ratliff of Regal Cinemas Alamo Quarry Stadium 16 in San Antonio was recognized for best use of Internet/Web promotion. Both campaigns were designed to trumpet "Superman Returns."

Bridget LeConey of Regal Cinemas Hamilton Commons Stadium 14 in Mays Landing, N.J., received the best community event prize; Ali Ray Pierce of Regal Cinemas City Center Stadium 12 in Vancouver, Wash., was honored both for best lobby display for an independent film and best use of media for an independent film for her work on Focus Features' "Pride & Prejudice" and Fox Searchlight's "Little Miss Sunshine," respectively.

The award for best use of newspaper went to Daniel Lundquist of Celebrity Theaters 10 in Broussard, La., while Jodi Pine's work at Muvico Theatres netted her prizes for best presentation binder for the CG-animated family film "Over the Hedge" and best theater display for a major release for Buena Vista's "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest."

Winners received $1,000 in cash, a commemorative plaque and free admission to the convention, including free accommodations at the Paris hotel.
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